Samsung DeX wants to invade your laptop

The latest version of Samsung's productivity platform ditches the docks for a direct-to-PC connection.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
2 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

One of the underappreciated parts of the Samsung Galaxy ecosystem has always been DeX, the platform for accessing apps and tolls on your Galaxy phone from the comfort of a keyboard/monitor/mouse setup. For its latest iteration in 2019 for the new Note 10 and Note 10+, the focus shifts to working with your PC, instead of trying to replace it. 

The idea has evolved since it was introduced in 2017 as a companion to the Samsung Galaxy S8, but was always based on the idea of connecting your Galaxy phone to a small docking station, which would in turn connect to a monitor and keyboard. From there, a custom OS overlay would take over, giving you desktop-style access to a handful of optimized Android apps reconfigured for largest screens and keyboard/mouse use. 

Starting with the Galaxy Note 10 and 10+, DeX has shed that last vestige of the phone dock idea. Now DeX is entirely software driven, and connects directly to your current laptop (or desktop) PC via a USB-C cable. 

Samsung Dex

The original DeX dock in action.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When connected, DeX allows you to share your screen between Windows and Android, giving the Note 10 its own slice of onscreen real estate. That means you can use DeX-optimized apps with your keyboard and mouse, but much more importantly, files can be transferred across the OS divide with a simple drag-and-drop move. 

Samsung has also promised easier access to phone notifications and messages through Windows, but similar schemes have never worked especially well before (except for iMessage and MacOS), so we'll reserve judgment on that until we can test it. 

DeX may have scaled down its ambitions to completely replace your laptop, but you also don't have to buy a $100 docking access anymore. I'd call that a net win. 

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